Climate Matters Staffordshire 
Climate Forums

Introduction

 

During August and September 2021 Climate Matter Staffordshire held 4 climate forums on the topics of: Countryside, food, farming and nature, reducing waste and consumption, decarbonising transport and buildings attended by a total of 61 people. The forums were held across the county taking place in Stoke on Trent, Leek, Lichfield and Rugeley.  Each forum was addressed by speakers with expertise relevant to the forum.

Whilst not a random selection of the residents of Staffordshire and Stoke-on Trent, the issued raised together with suggested solutions give a snapshot of public opinion and could potentially be used as a model for consultation in the coming months.

Success on addressing the climate and ecological crises will depend on local authorities, businesses, the voluntary and community sector, and residents working together.

Suggested Issues and Solutions from the Climate Forums

Common To All Forums

 

Issues

  • Need for more education on climate change for everyone

  • Nowhere for the public to assess information on what actions, groups and resources are available locally to help combat the crisis

  • Access to skills and training to upskill local people in low carbon jobs

  • Lack of communication between businesses, the local authorities, and communities to enable everyone to make climate friendly choices

  • High initial cost of many decarbonisation measures and the lack of support in making the necessary changes, i.e. lack of grants or cheap loans

 

Solutions

  • Learn from best practice elsewhere in the UK

  • Provide clear and accessible information on what local people can do, the local initiatives ongoing, the training available to them, the finance for projects and the tools which they can use to make a different

  • Communicate in a multitude of different ways reiterating the points so the public understand the issues and how they can contribute to the solutions

  • Create spaces to work with and support local communities to create solutions tailored to their needs, bringing local people together to influence decision makers

  • Work to influence behaviour change, for example by working with influencers to change the narrative around climate change and reducing emissions

  • Work collectively between organisation and across departments to embed sustainability and recognise the health, wellbeing and economic benefits of acting on climate change

  • Promote and elevate the voices of organisations and individuals which already have excellent practice

  • Recognising the importance of reducing and reusing over recycling

  • Permanent climate conference/forum bringing together all groups to share ideas and learn from each other

Buildings, Rugeley

Key Issues

  • Cost of decarbonising buildings to the individual

  • The majority of 2050 housing stock already exists

  • Development in areas which do not provide amenities and transport links

  • Efficiency measures should be considered during the planning phase of development

  • Lack of locally skilled people able to retrofit

Solutions

  • Financially support people on low incomes retrofit their homes and create incentives for landlord to increase energy efficiency

  • Increase the availability of training and education for local people on retrofitting and zero carbon buildings

  • Ensure any planning applications approved only contain buildings which comply with 2050 carbon zero targets

  • Decarbonise council buildings and showcase them to enable local people to see zero carbon buildings in practice

  • Create long term plans so supply chains can be secured and people know the jobs will exist when they begin training, helping to support the local economy

  • Develop a strategy to create high-quality, low-cost rental properties in the local area

Transport, Leek

Key Issues

  • Lack of fast, direct, cheap, fun, and low carbon buses which serve community needs, connecting people with crucial amenities including hospitals

  • Safety concerns for cyclists on roads and bus users on buses and at stations

  • Lack of education for cyclists and car users about how to act on the road

  • Lack of electric vehicle charging infrastructure

 

Solutions

  • Have public transport which goes to the places people want, working with local communities to decipher the most appropriate routes

  • Create dedicated routes/corridors for safe active travel between and within different areas of Staffordshire

  • Increase outdoor education in schools and ensure schools provide cycling education

  • Provide affordable and fun public transport with information easy to find on scheduling

  • Clear targets for how much driving should reduce by, by a set date

  • Increase electric charging infrastructure, particularly in terraces and villages

Reducing Consumption and Waste, Lichfield

Key Issues

  • High levels of consumption, particularly fast fashion and electronics with a strong social pressure to consume

  • High levels of food waste and a lack of knowledge on how to reduce it

  • Lack of knowledge about local resources which can reduce waste/consumption i.e. repair cafés

  • Limited incentive for businesses to reduce waste creation

Solutions

  • Promotion and access to information on how to reduce waste and consumption across a range of media sources

  • Simplify and unify the recycling, including food waste, system across the county

  • Provide information and tools to local people on local and seasonal produce, using symbols to highlight local produce i.e. the Staffordshire Knot for local produce

  • Acknowledge the embedded emissions of products within carbon audits, promoting local low carbon alternatives

  • Involve the local community with council budgeting through schemes such as participatory budgets focused on waste and consumption reduction

  • Ensure council procurement is aligned with zero carbon targets

Countryside food, farming and nature, Stoke on Trent

Key Issues

  • Lack of education on what low carbon food is and how to cook it

  • Quantity of high intensity animal farming and its associated emissions

  • Lack of biodiversity and wild spaces locally, particularly in and around towns

  • Development on greenfield rather than brownfield sites, decreasing the amount of green spaces

Solutions

  • Invest in community hubs, giving the community opportunities to develop their own ideas, connect with local people and find support which also have facilities to share food

  • Farmers should be encouraged to manage peat so it can effectively store carbon

  • Create a target for how much sustainable food should be consumed in public places including schools, hospitals i.e. 40% or 60%

  • Encourage young people into horticulture via grants, loans and access to land

  • Increase the amount of rewilding in local areas, particularly post-industrial sites which are currently derelict, recognising the mental health benefits of green spaces

  • Work with schools to provide information and run competitions on how to reduce food waste

  • Encourage parish councils and community groups to have climate ambassadors which create a pathway into the local community and encourage greater ambitious locally

  • Provide information on how to make gardens wildlife havens

What people think about our forums 

Our Countryside Forum

What a great event! So refreshing to see the speakers working together for rational, factual and friendly discussions. I would love to see more of this happen

Our Transport Forum

I really enjoyed the day, and very much appreciated a forum that listens to all side of the coin, for how else can we move forward if we are not all inclusive

Our Consumption and Waste Forum

Very helpful and educational!  making me understand what to do with things I don't need, especially in my company